Tangledeep is a title I was very interested in playing until I got into the game and had to battle with the interface. It doesn’t work, it’s clunky and made it difficult to manage my inventory and I never felt like I could forget about it and enjoy the game. I went as far as using a gamepad, however, the full controller support doesn’t seem like it’s very full and even rebinding the keys didn’t really help matters.
I switched back to keyboard and mouse and after a little while found my next gripe, the pathing is awful. I cannot count the number of times I took damage because I decided to move somewhere and was taken on a path through a tile that did damage.
So, this is a terrible game don’t buy it? Well, don’t judge it just yet.
This is the first title from Impact Gameworks. Touted “an ever-changing labyrinth full of mysteries, danger, and treasure” the game began life as a learning experience with Unity, however, after a successful Kickstarter and Greenlit by Steam Tangledeep took shape and is now the roguelike 16-bit retro game we see today.
So, it’s not perfect and it has its issues but overall it is a fun, if extremely challenging game. There are three modes to choose from, Adventure, Heroic or Hardcore.
In adventure mode if you reach 0 HP you will be returned to town, you will lose half of your unspent money, unspent Job Points (JP) and Experience (XP). I found everything completely overwhelming at first and this mode, whilst not the intended way to play certainly saved me from “some” frustration.
However, in Heroic Mode, the way the game was intended to be played, if you reach 0 HP, the game will end, only good you have banked and town progress are saved. This is brutal, especially when the reason you died is that the interface fought you in organising your inventory which prevented you from healing quickly because the pathing took you through a ridiculous tile. The net result is you lose your game progress and have to go and shout at your wife for something she didn’t do.
Then we have “only an idiot would play in this mode” or as its called in the game, Hardcore Mode. Reach 0 HP in this mode and it’s not just game over, ALL of your saved progress is gone. I mean the game literally erases everything, then the man from the Tango Adverts from a few years back will come round your house to kick you, and before he leaves, he will eat all of your jammy dodgers.
OK, I went a bit too far but it is brutal. I understand wanting challenge but inviting a game to torment you is literally only for the most hardcore players.
It was because of the way I felt about the interface that I stuck with Adventure mode and what I found underneath the irritations was a very enjoyable and deep experience. It’s not like many of the other dungeon crawlers you come across and there is a solid character progression system to boot. Starting out you choose your class, I chose to play as a Floramancer as it seemed interesting with the ability to summon beasts, traps and obstacles “to control the battlefield”. In short, I summon a Floraconda that kills everything.
The 9 starting classes are:
Brigand, A dirty fighter that relies on subterfuge, high mobility, and striking enemy weak spots for massive damage.
Floramancer, Wields the power of verdant nature, summoning beasts, traps, and obstacles to control the battlefield.
It is heavily implied that a Floramancer has the capability to speak with plant life.
Sword Dancer, Effortlessly carves through enemies with impeccable discipline, technique, and grace.
Paladin, Noble knight that smites evil and calls upon divine magic. Good for beginners.
Budoka, Terrifying master of a secret, deadly martial art. Uses physical prowess to cripple and destroy enemies.
Hunter, An eagle-eyed expert in dispatching enemies at range, armed with an assortment of traps.
Spellshaper, A mad scientist of the magical arts, combining elemental forces and bending them to their will.
Edge Thane, A stalwart warrior who combines Flow and song to infuse her power and overcome her enemies.
Soulkeeper, A fierce conjurer that draws power from the Echoes of fallen enemies, shadows, and spirits of the earth. Learn any Soulkeeper ability to begin collecting Echoes.
After you have played the game and met certain criteria you can unlock three additional classes.
Gambler, A risk-taking fortune-seeker specialising in outlandish attacks, with a pinch of luck mixed in. You can unlock Gambler by clearing 2F of the Casino. After defeating all the enemies, go downstairs and speak to The Casino Shark, who will reward you with the Gambler Job.
HuSyn, augmented with ancient Runic technology, this mid-range fighter wields magic and technology alike. You can unlock HuSyn after the 3rd boss. At the campfire area, around the 18th floor, inspect the device when shown it.
Wild Child, A fierce hero raised in the wilds of Tangledeep. Uses an unorthodox fighting style and the powers of monsters. You can unlock Wild Child After taming two monsters (including the one you are given as part of a tutorial) for the Monster Corral, you will be given a quest to get Rose Petals. Afterwards, you will be sent to a side area where you will unlock Wild Child on the 6th floor.
If you start out as a class and decide its not for you then you can switch classes for a fee and the best part is that means you can mix and match skills and weapons to create your own unique character that fits your preferred play style and is an example of how well thought out the game is as a whole.
You start out underground and your goal is to reach the surface, each map is slightly harder than the level below it and the way level progression works means it’s not just a case of getting the biggest weapon, the best armour and gradually fighting your way through each level. There is a system called Dreamcaster which lets you choose a weapon or defensive item, fight through an extremely tough few levels and fight a boss, if successful you get to enhance your item making it more effective. It’s a really good idea and works really well. Dreamcaster mechanic is the only way you will be strong enough to make it to the surface.
In fact, you need to be careful when you play this game in any mode, it’s pretty brutal and you will not be able to just run around without suffering a setback or two. After a few hours, I felt capable of taking on several foes at once but the way the healing mechanics’ work had me sent back to town on more than one occasions minus 50% of my money!
Healing is limited and time-based. Essentially you eat something and then heal over time if you judge this wrong you will not make it through a battle with all of your gold. Managing your healing is a pain in truth, the interface is clunky, the food has a cooldown timer so it’s more frustrating than it sounds.
There were some interesting ideas in the game, for example, at the magic grove you meet Langdon, he is, of course, a Frog and farmer who plants seeds you find. When the trees mature you can head back and chop them down for additional JP and XP.
Go speak to Jesse at the monster corral, complete your monster taming tutorial and you will be able to raise monsters to help you in a fight. You will need your Monster Mallet, then simply attack a poor creature to below 15% of its health, then just knock the monster unconscious, you can then humiliate them by dragging them around until you decide to return to Jesse who will imprison the creature until you are ready to make it fight for you. Nothing sinister.
You can have up to 12 monsters in the corral at any one time so it’s a good idea to enslave as many as possible. After you feed and groom them they will “want” to be your friend I promise. When you groom them, they become a little more beautiful, now, other monsters will want to date them.
Simply cook a meal, add some rose petals and bang, you will be on your way to whoring them out and breeding them with other monsters to create terrifying offspring to do your bidding.
There are the obligatory NPCs hanging around town offering you side quests and overall there is a lot of game to be had here.
Tangledeep is well thought out, you can feel the love that made this game but it feels like an engineer designed the interface and not a designer. If the interface was a little more user-friendly and the AI pathing a little more solid this game would come highly recommended. Right now, I can say this game is almost great.
It looks fantastic, has some new and interesting ideas. I love the great mix of Roguelike/RPG gameplay and I am very impressed by some truly inspired mechanics but it is ultimately flawed by the frustrations of playing and managing the interface.
I hope this is an area that can be improved in a later patch because for now, I won’t be coming back.